RANKED: Wyoming's 3 Dumbest Yellowstone Tourists of 2021 | Big Horn Basin Media

RANKED: Wyoming’s 3 Dumbest Yellowstone Tourists of 2021

Written by on January 14, 2022

Yellowstone National Park had its busiest year on record in 2021 and, of course, that meant plenty of shenanigans from folks who are so selfless that they decided to “take an L” by setting a great bad example for the rest of us. 

So, out of all those tourons who got their 15 minutes of fame last year, who were the biggest losers? We saw plenty of flops, duds, and also-rans, but who among them gave us antics worthy of making it to the podium? Here’s our countdown to number one!

  1. Don’t Stand So Close to Me
  • Sure, humans are an apex predator, but that knowledge alone wouldn’t give you the confidence to get within selfie distance of a mama grizzly bear, right? (Transplants, this is the part where you nod your head “yes.”) Unfortunately, that seems to have been the case for Illinois resident Samantha Dehring, who got waaaaaaayyyy too comfortable with a grizzly bear and her cubs at Roaring Mountain back in May – she even stood still while the griz charged toward her! And yes, there’s video. In fact, the video went viral, and that’s how park rangers learned about this little misfire in the first place.  For her bravery, if that’s what you want to call it, Samantha received a four-day jail sentence, a year of unsupervised probation and over $2,000 in fines and fees. Pretty sure TurboTax won’t let her use that as a write-off. Oh, she’s also banned from Yellowstone National Park for a year. 
  • “Life’s hard, but it’s harder when you’re stupid” is definitely applicable here. A 37-year-old Maine resident made his transparent plea for attention in July 2020 by running onto Old Faithful geyser several times “while wearing a raccoon-skin hat and waving an American flag,” according to news reports. Yeah, you read that right. The guy should be grateful for his 15-day jail sentence, seeing as he easily could’ve died had he fallen through the thin surface into the boiling water below. If you think the stunt itself wasn’t bad enough, get this: this upstanding citizen failed to appear for his court date, so he had to be arrested in Maine earlier this year. 
  1. Writing His Wrongs
  • We’ve all seen people get caught because they bragged about their misdeeds afterward, but using your crimes to build a brand for yourself via social media, a podcast, and a printed guidebook puts our Touron of the Year on his own level. Theodore Eugene Garland was convicted and sentenced for a litany of violations in Yellowstone – violating swimming closures, cliff jumping, trespassing on thermal grounds, and providing unauthorized guided tours, just to name a few. Then he went and publicized those activities – d’oh! He was charged with 15 counts and ultimately convicted of 7 crimes. That landed him plenty of fines and fees. He was also ordered to write an introduction to his guidebook, Explore Yellowstone Like a Local, “communicating respect for the park and removing references of illegal activity…” That’s the best sentencing idea I’ve heard in a long time! Style points to the judge on that one.

Yellowstone is a national treasure, and the very least each visitor can do is conduct themselves in a safe, respectful manner so that we can all enjoy the park for generations to come. Hopefully we can all learn from the poor judgment exhibited by this year’s finalists, but unfortunately, I have a feeling that we’ll be publishing a new version of this list once the 2022 tourist season wraps up.

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